Construction Update
The New Chinatown Library

Chinatown Branch Library under construction

The City of Chicago’s latest library is taking shape down in Chinatown.  The new Chinatown Branch Library (2100 South Wentworth Avenue) is going up on a triangle-shaped piece of land that used to be a parking lot a block north of the CTA Red Line station.  Our Daniel Schell took these photos showing the steel framework which will help the main portion of the building assume its final shape — a three-sided oval.

Chinatown Branch Library drawing courtesy of the Public Building Commission of ChicagoNot surprisingly, the new library’s collection will have a heavy focus on Chinese heritage and Chinese language materials.  There will also be a larger number of computers available for the public to use, study rooms, and a larger community room.

The building was designed by New York’s Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The green design naturally has a green roof, but also permeable pavers to cut down on rainwater runoff, native landscaping, and uses lots of natural light to cut down on electricity use.  At the same time, vertical fins, reminiscent of bamboo, help reduce incoming heat from the sun.

So, why is the building a rounded oval-ish shape surrounding a central atrium?  To make the building Feng Shui-compliant.  That’s also why the main entrance faces southeast, between 127.5° and 157.5°, the “most favored orientation.”  According to city documents,

The central atrium is attractive – it is enlivened with natural light and has good spatial unity.

An open, flowing circulation system for people is equivalent to a good blood flow in the human body. Avoid abrupt, awkward paths especially to the stairs.

The lobby feels comfortable and spacious with a good connection to the reception area. The administrative and staff area has a good centralized “power” location with good views and access.

And in case you’re wondering, yes the big stone dog statues from the old library will go walkies up the street to the new library when it opens in the summer of 2015, once an “auspicious” date is chosen.


Chinatown Branch Library Construction Photos


Chinatown Branch Library Diagrams and Renderings

All images courtesy of the Public Building Commission of Chicago 


Location: 2100 South Wentworth Avenue, Chinatown


Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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